Summer Sleep Outs

I was out in the garden weeding after work yesterday  when  the children from next door came over to help me. (They were remarkably helpful and pulled all the right weeds and none of the vegetables.) They were so excited to tell me that they were sleeping in the back yard in a tent with their dad  that night. Sure enough, there was a tent in the back yard with sleeping bags and pillows.  We did the same with our children in the back yard. It was so much fun!

I have the fondest memories of outdoor summer sleeping in various venues-with cousins, with friends, with my dad. What a wonderful thing to do!

What are your Summer sleeping-out memories? What are other Summer night memories?

64 thoughts on “Summer Sleep Outs”

  1. roman candle fights on the 4th of july
    some summer camping but the winter camping is most memorable
    we spent a bunch of years doing a flea market in nisswa on saturday and sleeping at leech friday and saturday nights in the summer
    bonfires and weekend sports tournaments for 5 kids, when youngest daughter went off to college it looked like we were done with sports weekends but no now the frisbee tournaments are in other states and the theater daughter has her performances 2 or 3 weekends a quarter so travel and hanging out has replaced little league

    Liked by 3 people

  2. We had a house with no air conditioning but a big screened-in porch. Our upstairs bedroom was very uncomfortable to sleep in during hot, humid nights. So for several summers, our parents divided the porch in half by hanging a sheet from a clothesline, put wooden roller shades over the screens on that half, and we slept on cots. Our Springer Spaniel, who was not allowed in the house except for the basement, was allowed to sleep out there with us.
    We never camped as a family. I think mom would have been fine with it but dad had absolutely no interest.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Many older homes in the Twin Cities have what were usually called “summer porch” rooms. Unlike ground level porches, the summer porches were usually on the second floor. Not all had screens, for mosquitoes are a ground level sort of pest. Families would sleep in the summer porch on unusually warm and humid nights. Many of those old summer porches have been enclosed and are now unified with the rest of the house, a change made possible by air conditioning.

      A friend grew up in Minneapolis in the 1930s. She remembers hot, sticky nights when families slept in city parks to escape the heat.

      Liked by 5 people

  3. Morning-
    I remember one time sleeping in an old canvas pup tent in the front yard. That canvas has a smell you never forget.
    Kelly had an Aunt and Uncle that took her, her brother, and two cousins camping every summer. They hit just about every state and made a lifetime of memories. Aunt and Uncle were able to take our son out a few times.

    Growing up my bedroom was always down in the basement so it was generally cool. And no one had ceiling fans back then. Hot nights mom and Dad would turn their bed kitty corner between the windows and put a box fan in the doorway to help move the air.
    First thing Kelly and I did when moving in was put in ceiling fans.

    Growing up my grandmother lived just a few blocks from where the city fireworks display went up. All the cousins met there. Watermelon and running around with squirt guns. One kid did almost lose an eye. They recovered. I miss those nights; I always get nostalgic on the fourth of July.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    I have told my story of sleeping in the yard in Kansas during a meteor shower. That is my favorite memory.

    Most of my camping memories are related to my aunt and uncle who took us traveling and camping through out our childhoods. Uncle Jim was poor as a church mouse then, and could not even afford a tent, just gas. So at first we slept in the back of the station wagon. My brother and sister returned from a camping trip to Colorado in which Uncle Jim drove a sedan. He had purchased a small pop up camper by that time. But there still was not room for everyone in the camper. He and my brother slept in the massive trunk of the sedan while everyone else slept in the camper.

    I don’t remember sleeping out in our yard though. My son used to do that with friends, which was to them, incredibly exciting.

    My aunt and uncle are still alive and in their mid 80’s. They no longer camp, but they did until several years ago. Now they sit all day watching Fox News. I love them dearly, but I just can’t be around the incessant #45 talk, so we are no longer in touch. This is one of the sad losses to #45 which probably is affecting many families.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. With my high school friends Denny and Mike, I once camped out overnight just below the Skunk River a few miles south of Ames. The bridge we camped near is now an old relic.

    We put out a trotline that night. Denny had done that before, and he knew about baiting the hooks with chunks cut from a bar of soap. Why soap? The brand we bought was made by rendering animal fats, and we caught three catfish that night.

    My mother was plagued with anxieties in those days, and she became upset about my safety. To my utter humiliation, we were woken up that morning by my parents honking the horn of their car. They had purchased High C orange drink and chocolate covered doughnuts for our breakfast. In spite of the shame, I was happy to eat the doughnuts.

    The most memorable moment from that trip was stealing corn from the nearby field, then roasting it over our campfire. That’s when I learned the difference between sweet corn and field corn. Yeeeechh!

    Liked by 5 people

      1. It’s just an old rusty bridge. I sent a link to you.

        When I was a kid, some folks decided to upgrade the name of the river from Skunk to its Indian name, something like Chacuagua. That got to be controversial for a strange reason. Back in the 1840s one of the nastiest obstacles for Conestoga wagons headed for Oregon was the Skunk River. It was infamous for the clay-like gumbo that mired wagons down and wouldn’t let them go. When they were trying to give the place a prettier name there were still some old folks, descendants of pioneers, who still bore a grudge about that gumbo. They testified that the Skunk was one skunk of a river to cross, and they didn’t want to see it get a nicer name. It is still the Skunk today. And I just checked. The creek where I spent thousands of hours playing on the west side of Ames is still Squaw Creek.

        Liked by 3 people

  6. My family camped together a few times in areas close enough to Stubbekøbing that we could ride our bicycles there. How we managed to do that, considering that those old canvas tents were both heavy and bulky, now boggles my mind. Also, our sleeping bags back then, weren’t exactly lightweight, either. Plus, the food and other necessary camping gear. Dad and I loved camping, mom and Randi, not so much.

    Summers in Denmark are (or back then, were) moderately warm, never hot, so camping was not an escape from the heat. You did it for the fun of cooking over an open fire, and sitting around the campfire in the evening singing or telling stories. It was also a sure bet if you camped more than a couple of days, you’d get rained on, but that was all part of the fun.

    Later on, in my teens, I was a girl scout, and we, too, camped out, usually just on weekends, although I do recall one week-long summer camp with the whole troop on the island of Ærø. What wonderful memories. Thanks, Renee, for this trip down a path I haven’t visited in a long time.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. Daughter and her best friend camped out in our yard several times. I loved being at my Uncle Ronald and Aunt Norma’s farm in the summer. My cousin Steve and I had the best time, and I remember sleeping outside in sleeping bags. Why we weren’t devoured by mosquitoes I don’t know.

    I loved running around at night on my other cousins’ farms. The groves were magical at night and seemed completely different places than in the daylight.

    Liked by 3 people

        1. That would be an ectopic reply. It was to have gone underneath the comment in which Renee’s daughter is teasing her about getting Ranier cherries at the farmer’s market. I thought she could tease her back later in the summer, but put it in the wrong spot.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. OT – Went to our small local Farmers’ Market this morning. My haul was two bunches of different kinds of radishes, three different heads of lettuce (god, they’re beautiful), a bag of baby arugula, and three salad turnips. On my way home, I stopped at my friend Philip’s house to share my bounty with him. He remains on hospice care, and his breathing is very labored, but as usual, he was upbeat, cheerful and grateful for the very brief, socially-distanced visit. He adores fresh produce as much as I do, so I know this gave his spirit a little boost. He’s the only hospice patient I know who despite his severe physical limitations, is optimistic enough to have planted a couple of containers with tomatoes and herbs.

    While at the market I saw a young dad shopping with his two small children, I’m guessing their ages to be four and six. The four-year old was wearing a pair of high-top sneakers with gleaming gold (not yellow) tops and shoelaces. “Wow, those are very fancy sneakers,” I commented in passing, and then my eyes went to the older sister’s feet. She was wearing two different rubber boots. Different colors, different shapes, and came up to two different heights on her calves. “and, oh my, look at those boots,” I added. Dad laughed and said: “Yes, footwear is a thing at our house.” Don’t you just love parents who let their kids express themselves that way?

    Liked by 6 people

  9. Today would not be a good day to put up a tent here. The winds are blowing at a steady 33 mph, with gusts up to 44. It is 90°. We are sheltering indoors, only going out to change the soaker hoses.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I did not grow up in a camping family. We didn’t own a tent or any paraphernalia although one summer when I was in high school we took a trip with a trailer camper that we pulled behind the car. It was very small and not very comfortable. And we were plagued by rain so my folks cut the trip short and we came home sooner than anticipated. YA and I camp a little, usually one trip a summer. We have a nice tent and bags and air mattresses so it’s comfortable. But we have never camped in the backyard, because then what do you do with the dogs.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My mom had fond memories of sleeping out on their front lawn under the stars with two of her sisters on hot nights…

    We had a few tenting experiences when nephew Vin was with us, and then we did more camping after we got the VW van with the pop top. And it was so handy to visit people, bringing our own bedroom…

    And fireflies – I remember going out after dark in the summer to catch lightening bugs. I sometimes see a few in our neighbor’s yard, but nothing like when I was a kid.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Saw my first lightning bug of the year just a few nights ago. It’s interesting to see them over the fields; they will be thickest over the soybeans for some reason. Oat fields won’t have many and corn will have a few more, but beans have the most. Maybe they’re eating bugs in the beans? Don’t know but they’re fun to see.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Lightning bugs were a phenomenon to me known only from the Donald Duck magazine when I was a kid. In fact, like so many other things in that magazine I didn’t really believe they existed until I encountered them the first time on a camping trip near Cheyenne, Wyoming. I was thrilled to discover that they were real.

        I had actually seen a hummingbird in the Copenhagen zoo, so I knew they were real, but never expected to live somewhere so exotic that I’d actually see them in the wild. Another huge thrill.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Exotic Minnesota. Now there is a thought. It never occurs to us when we live in a place that something like a lightning bug or a hummingbird would be exotic.

          Liked by 3 people

        2. That’s because even Iowa is pretty exotic in comparison to Denmark when it comes to fauna. I have friends who live in northern Minnesota who routinely see bears in their yards, to me that’s pretty exotic. That said, there’s something to be said for living in a place where you don’t have to worry about venomous snakes or an alligator eating your pet in your own back yard. 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

        3. I have a cousin who lives in Australia. When he came to the U.S. a few years back, he brought his partner, a native Australian. They were visiting his parents in the middle of Wisconsin. She was thrilled and fascinated to see for the first time in the wild that exotic creature, the squirrel. Apparently Australia doesn’t have any.

          Liked by 2 people

        4. I am not very sympathetic to people in Florida who are building houses into the Everglades, then they complain because the alligators eat their pets, or in one case, their children! When we visited Miami 2 years ago we toured that area. Developers are trying to settle the Everglades with houses. Of course the local wildlife objects to this plan, although they seem to appreciate the new sources of food.

          It left me biased against Florida developers.

          Liked by 3 people

        5. And I’m most definitely not a fan of people releasing their exotic pets such as boa constrictors or Burmese pythons into the Everglades. That’s one exotic place that doesn’t need that kind of enhancement. But I hear you, Jacque, developing the Everglades seems like a horrible idea.


      2. A friend, a Danish scientist, once worked on a project to create a material that would glow to indicate the presence of bacteria. Why would that be important? Think about how surgeons or workers in food plants would benefit from knowing RIGHT NOW that their operations were threatened by bacteria. My friend eventually sold the technology to 3M for an amazing amount of money.

        The key component in his system was a chemical that would glow, and that chemical was mostly available in the back end of lightning bugs. That meant my scientific friend was involved in a serious pursuit of lightning bugs to harvest the reagent. He had astonishing stories. I think the most reliable source of the chemical turned out to be farm kids in Iowa.

        I have many fond memories of fireflies from our Lake Superior cabin. Nothing adds magic to ordinary landscapes as well as fireflies glowing at dusk.

        Liked by 3 people

  12. No camping in the backyard for me, just the family camping trips almost every summer and then BWCAW trips w/Dad starting at age 9 or 10. Our first camping experiences were in those Coleman pop-up trailers with the slideouts and much of our gear stored on the floor until the top went up. We kids thought that was pretty special and exciting.

    WIfe and I are wimps now. We have a screen porch on our house but have never slept in it on a hot summer evening because we have A/C and it’s too darn easy just to click the little button and make the house as comfy as you like.

    But I paid my dues big time when I was a kid and got the upstairs room in the crackerbox story-and-a-half suburban houses that shot up like weeds in the ’50s. Dad put a window fan in one window and sucked all the heat up from the first floor so it blew right over me and my brother and (eventually) out the window. It always was nice and cool on the first floor in the morning, and only tolerable upstairs by sunup. It’s a wonder my mattress didn’t grow mold form all the sweating I did every hot summer night.

    And don’t get me started about the NOISE of that fan! *grr*

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 3 people

  13. My parents and I never camped as a family. When I was in the Boy Scouts, my Dad would be one of the fathers who went along as co-leaders to the annual Camporee, as they called it. In that era, all the equipment was army surplus—heavy mildewy canvas tents, heavy wooden cots, sleeping bags of unknown provenance. As for camping experience, it was apparent that the fathers associated camping with being in the army. The stories they told around the campfire were war stories. There was a lot of marching to various places. They even rigged an obstacle course—crawling under barbed wire, etc. that we were supposed to participate in. The older scouts tended to torment the younger ones and the fathers did little to stop it. These older scouts called it “initiation” but the initiation never ended. It was just whatever sadistic thing they could invent to inflict.

    Before Robin and I had kids, we had a few camping episodes with friends, like the Easter eve campouts where everybody damn near froze or the time we drove to some state park (I don’t remember which one) and arrived at dusk to find that all the campsites were filled. We finally found a spot on a sort of peninsula and set up our tents and built a fire. In the morning we discovered why that spot had been available. We were entirely surrounded by poison ivy.

    We camped a few times with our girls when they were young. I can’t think of a single instance where the experience was, on balance, a rewarding one. There was the time of the near tornado, where we honestly expected the tent to be collapsed or even ripped apart. There was the time the rain was so torrential we all slept in the car. There was the time when after we settled into our campsite, a group of bikers roared into the adjacent campsite and proceeded to party all night. One of my daughters, when very young, had a tendency to wet the bed, so part of the routine when we camped out was to drive to the nearest town to find a laundromat where we could wash her sleeping bag in the morning. I remember another time when one of the girls, still a toddler, developed diarrhea during the camping trip and I had to try to bathe her in a gas station sink.

    Those are my associations with camping. For me it has been meh at best and not worth the effort and discomfort. Personally I prefer a bed at night and a shower in the morning.

    Liked by 3 people

        1. I had an odd camping experience the first time my dad and I explored the BWCA. I was 14, an age when many kids begin losing innocence. While I loved and venerated my father, that trip was shocking for me as I witnessed how incompetent he was as an outdoorsman. Disillusionment is too mild a word. I didn’t ever write him off, but after that trip I became sensitive to his failings as an outdoorsman. To my credit, I never told him that.

          Liked by 4 people

    1. I suspect that if my mother and my sister were to reminisce about our family camping trips, they’d paint a picture similar to yours, Bill. My dad and I, having been on those exact same camping trips, would have much fonder memories. I wonder how your two girls remember those camping trips, do you know? And how about Robin?

      Wasband and I both loved camping. While living in Wyoming, we occasionally babysat for children of a couple of the doctors on base (wasband was a corpsman in the Air Force). Two of the kids were toddlers, there must have been poopy diapers and wet sleeping bags involved, but honestly, I don’t remember. I have such fond memories of those trips, except for one incident that I regret to this day. One morning, wasband encountered a small snake near our tent, and in a panic hacked the poor thing to death with his camping shovel. Neither of us new a fool thing about snakes at that time, but that experience made us determined to learn more about them. I especially regret that Jamie and Haydeen were there to see that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Interestingly, Robin has been somewhat more sanguine about the prospect of camping than I am. Possibly that is attributable to the fact that she was never put in the position of many mothers in family camping situations, where they still are given their normal role of doing the cooking and cleaning up while the rest of the family goes off to have adventures. We tended to go off to town for breakfast—we had to find that laundromat, after all—rather than spending the first two hours building a fire and waiting for it to get to the point where we could make a cup of coffee.

        Liked by 4 people

  14. In an interesting coincidence, as I was walking Guinevere this morning we went down along the parkway and there is someone camping on the parkway land. I wonder if you need permission for that?


      1. Back when husband and I would go kayaking on the Mississippi, we’d paddle past what looked like semi-permanent campsites in some of wooded areas near the river near Hidden Falls. These were apparently places places where homeless people congregated, and from time to time, they would be raided by police. The sites would no sooner be cleaned up, than they’d slowly reappear.


  15. OT-Daughter isn’t camping out today. She was at a peaceful protest march with Puyallup Indians as the tribe presented a blanket to BLM representatives. She marched 4 miles and has blisters.

    Liked by 3 people

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